Best and fairest: Brownlow Medal tips wide open

Betting on: Brownlow Medal 2020

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The Brownlow Medal is the highest individual honour on offer in the AFL. Voted on by the umpires on a 3–2–1 basis after each game, the award has become the symbol of Australian Rules excellence since being established in 1924.

In 2019, Fremantle champion Nat Fyfe became the 15th player to win the Brownlow twice, while the likes of Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin and Tom Mitchell have had their names engraved on the coveted medal in recent years.

The coronavirus-enforced rescheduling of the 2020 season to just 17 rounds means this year’s Brownlow Medal race is destined to be one of the closest on record. A strong start to the season is more important than ever before for Brownlow hopefuls, which gives Brisbane’s Lachie Neale, Gold Coast rookie sensation Matt Rowell, Geelong’s perennial contender Dangerfield and Port Adelaide veteran Travis Boak an early edge.

Check out the top chances and Brownlow Medal betting odds favourites as they stand after the first month of the 2020 AFL premiership.

LACHIE NEALE: LION’S ROARING START TO 2020

Brisbane midfielder Neale finished equal-third in the 2019 Brownlow Medal count as a spearhead of the long-suffering club’s rousing resurgence. The 27-year-old has been equally influential in the Lions’ 3–1 start to 2020 and finished June as the Brownlow Medal betting odds favourite following another best-on-ground showing in a big win over Adelaide Crows in round 5.

Neale played seven seasons for Fremantle before joining Brisbane last year, finishing equal-eighth in the 2016 Brownlow. He led the 2020 AFL charge for average disposals (29.5) at the end of round 4.

PATRICK CRIPPS: LEADING A BLUES RENAISSANCE

Playing for a Carlton Blues side that has finished no higher than 13th since his 2014 rookie year has not stopped Patrick Cripps making an impression on Brownlow Medal counts – or on 2020 Brownlow Medal betting odds.

Cripps finished one vote outside the top 10 in 2016, came equal-fourth in 2018 despite Carlton collecting the wooden spoon, and landed equal-third on the leaderboard last year after starring for the 16th-placed Blues. Incredibly, he picked up 13 of a possible maximum 15 votes in the first five rounds in 2019.

The Blues are on the improve in 2020 and 25-year-old co-captain Cripps has maintained his elite-level performances. He was the outright second Brownlow Medal betting favourite as the calendar flipped over into July.

MATT ROWELL: ROOKIE SUN SHINES

He can’t rent a car for another two years, but number-one draft pick Matt Rowell is already a bona fide AFL star, piecing together one of the most sensational rookie seasons in recent memory with the surprise-packet Gold Coast Suns.

The 3–1 Suns, reigning wooden spooners, have already matched their 2019 win tally – and brilliant midfielder Rowell, who only turned 19 on 1 July, is a chief reason why. Best-on-ground nods and glowing praise from AFL legends have flowed for the youngster, who has surged to third favourite in Brownlow Medal betting odds and is also sitting pretty at the top of Rising Star betting as of 1 July.

PATRICK DANGERFIELD: ‘DANGER’ SETS SIGHTS ON SECOND BROWNLOW MEDAL

Patrick Dangerfield is the epitome of sustained excellence if his Brownlow Medal count performances are any gauge. He has landed inside the top 10 every year since 2012, with five top-five finishes, and has only polled less than 21 votes once in that time.

In his first season after leaving Adelaide for Geelong, Dangerfield won the 2016 Brownlow Medal with a then-record 35 votes. He came second the following season with 33 votes (although he was ineligible due to suspension) and again in 2019.

The 30-year-old has been an early-season standout for the heavyweight Cats and is always an astute Brownlow Medal bet this far out.

MARCUS BONTEMPELLI: HEAD BULLDOG BOASTS BROWNLOW BITE

Captaincy responsibilities appear to have had a positive effect on Western Bulldogs linchpin Marcus Bontempelli, whose Brownlow Medal betting odds shortened in the wake of his stellar round 4 showing in a 28-point win over Sydney.

A 20-year-old Bontempelli finished one vote outside the Brownlow Medal count top five in the Bulldogs’ 2016 premiership season, came eighth a year later and landed equal-eighth with a career-high 22 votes in 2019. He won the Bulldogs’ best-and-fairest award in each of those three campaigns.

If the dark horse Bulldogs’ upward trajectory continues, ‘The Bont’ will be in the vanguard – and is well worth considering for a Brownlow Medal bet. 

NAT FYFE: CHANCE TO JOIN THE LEGENDS

Fremantle Dockers talisman Nat Fyfe is one of only two current players – along with Gary Ablett Jr – to win two Brownlow Medals. Matching VFL icons Hadyn Bunton Sr, Dick Reynolds, Bob Skilton and Ian Stewart on a record three is certainly within reach.

Pipped by one vote for the honour in 2014, Fyfe stormed to Brownlow Medal glory 12 months later with 31 votes. He emerged from an injury-hampered few seasons to win again in 2019 with 33 votes, despite the Dockers winning just nine games.

Fremantle’s dismal 0–4 start to 2020 and a short lay-off with a minor hamstring injury have placed Fyfe behind the eight ball in a shortened season, but few will be drawing a line through the superstar as a Brownlow Medal bet option just yet.

BRODIE GRUNDY: MAGIC MAGPIE A SMOKEY FOR A BROWNLOW MEDAL BET

If Collingwood is to fulfill its promise under the coach of Nathan Buckley, ruckman Brodie Grundy shapes as the key on-field piece of the puzzle.

The 26-year-old came equal-sixth in the 2019 Brownlow Medal with 23 votes after a top-10 finish a year earlier. The AFL’s best ruckman alongside Melbourne’s Max Gawn, Grundy has had a strong start to 2020 with the Magpies, suggesting he’ll be right in contention for the game’s most sought-after gong.

TRAVIS BOAK: VETERAN STILL POWERING PORT

Port Adelaide was the only unbeaten team in the AFL at the end of round 4 and is now considered a genuine flag threat. Travis Boak, in his 14th season with the Power, has unsurprisingly been a key to the club’s unforeseen charge.

The midfielder’s best Brownlow Medal effort came in 2014, when he finished equal-fifth with 21 votes. But he still managed 16 votes last year as the Power muddled their way to 10th place on the ladder.

Boak sat third in the 2020 AFLCA Champion Player of the Year standings – voted on by the game’s coaches – after four rounds, behind Neale and Rowell. That’s a pretty good guide as to how he’ll be travelling in the Brownlow stakes.

DUSTIN MARTIN: THE MAN TO LIFT TARDY TIGERS

Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for premiers Richmond or leading player Dustin Martin since the restart. A scrappy draw with Collingwood in round 2, a 32-point loss to Hawthorn with Martin out injured in round 3, and a 26-point defeat to St Kilda with Dusty largely tied down have put the Tigers under the pump.

But they’re still the team to beat for the flag – and Martin is the player who will inspire their inevitable turnaround.

Martin has finished no lower than seventh in the past five Brownlow Medal counts – including his 2017 triumph with a record 36 votes – and he came sixth last season with 23 votes. Track Martin’s progress from week to week at Sportsbet News.

CHRISTIAN PETRACCA: DOMINANT DEMON’S TIME TO SHINE

Melbourne’s Christian Petracca is regarded as one of the AFL’s brightest young talents, but he has polled a grand total of five Brownlow votes in four previous campaigns – and none in 2019.

But he has hit the ground running in 2020 and almost certainly grabbed the maximum three votes from the umpires as the Demons beat the Blues in round 2.

Petracca remains an outsider for a Brownlow Medal bet – he started July on the 14th line of Brownlow Medal betting odds – but he could emerge as a real chance as the season wears on. We’re publishing a weekly update of Petracca’s season at Sportsbet News.

AFL BROWNLOW MEDAL TIPS

Our prediction to win the 2020 AFL Brownlow Medal ahead of round 6:

Patrick Dangerfield

Sportsbet has AFL odds and betting options for the 2020 AFL Brownlow Medal, including AFL futures. Bet now.

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